Well, this particular interview with local television didn’t go well for President Obama:
KMOV-STL’s Larry Conners: “The economy is a big issue and concern for folks. I mean, the unemployment, trying to make ends meet, gas prices, food prices going up. Some of our viewers are complaining, they get frustrated, even angered, when they see the first family jetting around, different vacations and so forth. Sometimes maybe they think under color of state business and that you’re out of touch, that you don’t really know what they’re experiencing right now.”
President Barack Obama: “Well, I don’t know how many viewers you’re talking about that say that.”
Conners: “We do hear from some.”
Obama: “I hear from all kinds of viewers about everything.”
Conners: “I’m sure you do.”
Obama: “But the fact of the matter is, I think if you look at my track record, I’m raising a family here. When we travel, we got to travel through Secret Service, and Air Force One, that’s not my choice. I think most folks understand how hard I work and how hard this administration is working on behalf of the American people.”
Conners: “Well, of course, with all due respect, the President side stepped that question. No one is questioning his need to travel on Air Force One or have security. The questions being raised are the first family taking so many vacations, when and where, at taxpayer expense.”
First lady Michelle Obama’s weekend jaunt to Aspen, Colorado for a President’s Day ski holiday with her daughters Sasha and Malia makes the 16th time members of the first family have gone on extended vacations during their three years in office.
According to presidential watcher Mark Knoller of CBS, George W. Bush, at this time of his presidency, had made 30 visits to his Texas ranch spanning all or part of 220 days. The Obama’s vacation day count is less than half of that.
But his have become more controversial because of the costs associated with moving the first family to a public vacation spot, unlike the Bushes to their remote ranch in Crawford, Texas. For example, the Hawaii Reporter said the first family’s 2011 Christmas vacation in Hawaii would exceed $1.5 million.
Everyone deserves a vacation, and the president and his family are no exception. But presidential expenditures that may look normal or uncontroversial during good times of 4 to 6 percent unemployment may look . . . different after several years of 8 percent unemployment, stagnating incomes, expensive gasoline, etc.